Humans meet primitive aliens with six fingers, they turn out to be more intelligent than humans, there's a tropical kind of planet, and something to do with a young alien.

It's been 6 years since I've read this short story and I'd like to know what it was.

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    – Voronwé
    Jun 24, 2017 at 14:31
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    – user14111
    Jun 24, 2017 at 15:31
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    Someone please publish a story about humans meeting primitive aliens with six fingers who turn out to be less intelligent than humans, because from now on, if I ever stumble upon a story about us meeting primitive six-fingerers, I'll keep expecting them to be revealed as more intelligent. Jun 24, 2017 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


This is likely to be "Turning Point" by Poul Anderson. See this excellent previous answer providing details to confirm.

The story does indeed involve an alien planet with "primitive" inhabitants (called Jorillians) who start advancing in technology at an incredible pace after even brief exposure to human technology and ideas. The most prominent alien character is described this way:

A girl was emerging from the woods. She was about the equivalent of a Terrestrial five-year-old, I estimated. Less than a meter tall (the Jorillians average more short and slender than we), she had the big head of her species to make her look still more elfin. Long blondish hair, round ears, delicate features that were quite humanoid except for the high forehead and huge violet eyes added to the charm. Her brown-skinned body was clad only in a white loincloth. One four-fingered hand waved cheerily at us.

And again as:

The little girl (damn it, I will call her that)

  • @user14111 -- I was just transcribing the same quote! I think your other answer already has the details about 'tropical' location.
    – Otis
    Jun 24, 2017 at 15:19
  • Huh. In the original If magazine publication, the alien girl has a "blue-skinned body". The editorial blurb even notes that "Their color was odd, their heads queerly shaped, but they were human—at least!" (The cover picture shows her with brown skin, dark hair and blue loincloth.) I wonder why her skin color was changed to brown when the story was reprinted.
    – user14111
    Jun 24, 2017 at 19:51
  • Damn, I haven't read this book since high school and you've already gotten it down. Thanks
    – Max Osman
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:02

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